The general consensus appears to be that “Yoga Hosers” is the point at which Kevin Smith irrevocably jumped his own proverbial shark but, for me, it’s the point at which he fully actualised as an artist, having no fucks left to give in pursuit of bringing his unique vision to the screen. Now, if that vision involved making a movie which is one hundred per cent focused on telling a story which he, his family and friends will find funny and entertaining then so be it.
It’s an act of pure creation and whether or not you engage with or embrace it is, frankly, beside the point. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and if that beholder happens to be creatively stoned out of his gourd and wants to create an absurdist allegory about the lingering threat of fascism lurking just beneath the surface of North American life in the form of foot-long foot soldiers then so be it.
Picking back up the story of the two Colleens (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) who made a pivotal and memorable appearance in “Tusk”, “Yoga Hosers” initially plays out like a “Clerks: The Next Generation”. We have a second-generation pair of slacker shop workers, barely trying to disguise their ennui and disdain for the customers who continually interrupt their working lives. Unlike its predecessor, we get much more of an insight into their lives outside the store, even so far as seeing their home life and even spend some time at school. In typical later-Smith fashion, the movie seemingly sets up one plot before taking a hard left into more surreal territory. This time out, what starts as a conventional teen-girls-plotting-to-go-to-a-seniors-party turns into a “Gremlins”-style monster movie, replete with an unrepentantly silly boss fight finale.
Running through the movie is a b-plot which sees Justin Long return, this time as under-estimated strip mall yoga Svengali, Yogi Bayer who teaches his unique spin on the meditative arts in between fending off vexatious litigation from Hanna-Barbera and honestly, Long is just a joy to watch during these scenes. Also making a welcome return is Johnny Depp as legendary French-Canadian detective turned manhunter Guy LaPointe, this time on the trail of a notorious Canadian Nazi sympathiser Andronicus Arcane.
With cameos from the likes of Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, Kevin Conroy, Hayley Joel Osment, Vanesa Paradis and even Stan Lee, “Yoga Hosers” sees Smith at his most relentlessly, unapologetically silly. While it’s conspicuously less profane than his usual schtick, there’s still plenty of tasteless comedy but it’s all so much more cartoony than ever before. For those who grumble that they can’t believe this was made by the guy who made “Clerks”, I would point out that this feels exactly like a live-action adaptation of the “Clerks” animated TV show and I think that’s a pretty good thing. Only the special effects let the side down occasionally, especially in the rendering of the sauerkraut innards of the fiendish Bratzis.
Okay, so maybe the idea of two clerks and an eccentric detective taking on an army of diminutive sausage soldiers (all played by Smith himself) after they uncover a generational plan to incubate a new Nazi army in an underground base beneath the streets of Manitoba isn’t your bag and that’s fine but as I noted at the beginning, Smith didn’t make this movie for you. He made it for – and I quote – his inner twelve-year-old girl. I hope he’s okay with the fact I had a pretty good time watching it too.